The holidays are approaching and, goodness, are they approaching quickly! Each year whips past with even more frenzied gusto than the one before and it seems we are never 100% prepared by the time November arrives.
This time of year is beautiful, it is magical. A time for reflection, celebration, recognition. My own childhood holiday memories are precious: the warmth of a Christmas Eve mug of hot cocoa. The soft background repeat of Elvis’ holiday album. The thoughtful misty grey of a Texas winter sky. The syrup sweet indulgence of pecan pie. However, as we grow older, we tend to discover the holidays are not always as carefree as they appear in memory.
With age comes a fuller basket of responsibilities and, in turn, a more hectic Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s season. “Perfect” holiday cards must be mailed. Family members must be appeased. Food must be prepared. Decorations must be hung. Waistlines must be carefully managed. Gift shopping must be completed. All these perceived ‘musts’ can result in a negative emotional spiral and, as mentioned in Mental Health America of Chicago’s article Coping During This Holiday Season, many individuals may “experience the “holiday blues” and not feel like celebrating” (MHAI, 2001).
In light of the approaching holiday season, and its potentially inevitable stress triggers, we have created a TOPPS Holiday Tip List. These small suggestions will help maintain a conscientious balanced mind, balanced body! The Mayo Clinic agrees in Stress, depression and the holidays that it is essential to “prevent [stress] in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past” (Mayo Clinic staff, 2014).
TOPPS TIPS: 2016 Holiday Edition
1). Maintain a Semblance of Routine: Yes the holidays are unpredictable and potential changes can materialize. BUT, a routine helps create a sense of control and ease. Stay present, stay purposeful.
2). Recognize and Redirect Black & White Thinking: It’s easy to fall into this mind trap. When you notice the presence of strict all or nothing musings (learn how to recognize B&W thinking here), take a deep breath and rationalize those concerns.
3). Take Time for Yourself: We are often surrounded by others during the holidays- friends, family, coworkers. This can occasionally lead to a sense of sticky claustrophobia. Make sure to save some time each day just for YOU. Read a book after dinner, attend a yoga class, take a long shower. Unwind.
4). Validate your Feelings: This time of year can be hard and overwhelming. If you’re feeling anxious, that’s okay. If you’re experiencing some holiday depression, so be it. If you’re undergoing self-doubt, fine. All emotions are legitimate and admonishing yourself because you “shouldn’t feel this way during the holidays!!” is not fair.
5). Reach Out to Your Support System: Take care of yourself- if you need to talk to someone, make sure you do. Friends, family, teammates, coaches, and therapists are all great points of contact and should be used as such when times get tough. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Mayo Clinic staff (Oct. 3, 2014). Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping. Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544.
MHAI (2001). Coping During This Holiday Season. Retrieved from www.mhai.org/Holiday_Stress.pdf.